"Does that hurt in any way?" Admiral Chester Nimitz inquired of Brooklyn as she demonstrated the process of summoning her rigging for his inspection. She shook her head with a smile.
"Quite the contrary, Admiral, it feels like freedom, like what I was meant to be. I am sorry; it is difficult to put into words."
"No need, I believe I understand well enough. That little one with the odd uniform and dog's tail, if she can use hers as weapons I assume the same is true of you?" he surmised. Thorson smirked off to the side as Brooklyn nodded.
"Of course, sir. I suppose odd is one way to describe Yuudachi, but she's responded very well to Pennsylvania's firm hand and has proven to be an excellent escort when the shells begin to fly. As I've explained here in the after action report, we can use our rigging to navigate the surface of the ocean as well. Though this ability was only used for the rescuing of sailors and securing prisoners during the Midway operation, it has been used to disable warships at Java Sea. Tennessee and Downes pioneered the technique which, in that engagement, led to the capture of the light cruisers Jintsuu and Naka."
Nimitz sat back and steepled his fingers. "I do recall reading something to that effect. I confess I didn't find it credible. I sent it over to intelligence actually, truth be told. I thought perhaps you were trying to inform us of something in code, or perhaps a riddle. I confess this line about columns of towering flame only reinforces that perception in my mind. It would certainly line up with past intel derived from this site, long before kansen were 'in the open', so to speak."
Thorson was about to ensure Nimitz that the towering columns of flame were not only real, but repelled battleship shells when a light knocking came at the wood and rice paper door to the meeting room where they were seated around a low table. In a small oversight, or perhaps an intentional act due to their distrust of most Union brass, the Union kansen had not included conference rooms or any similar administrative infrastructure in their dormitory. It was their sanctuary, but it's design meant that Thorson had been forced to host Admiral Nimitz in the Sakura dormitory. The experienced naval officer seemed curious more than anything, however. The briefing was returned to its folder before the Commander spoke up. "Enter."
"I… good day," came a reserved but pleasant voice heralding Choukai's arrival. The Sakura kansen had replaced her uniform with a simple kimono, the dress sporting occasional sakura blossoms woven into the fabric. She was bearing a tray of tea cups and a kettle of steaming water. Thorson caught a glimpse of a minty green tail just around the corner and quickly realized she'd likely been put up to it by Akashi. On the plus side, it was pretty much confirmation that the tea wasn't poisoned, to say nothing of a bit of insight into Choukai's personality. The look suited her, but he kept those feelings private. "May I offer you refreshments, Shikikan?"
To the surprise of all present, it was Nimitz who burst into a hearty bout of chuckling. "That does explain a thing or two," he said, waving the young woman in. Thorson's brows rose silently as she knelt at the table and began mixing matcha powder with the water in front of them, serving the Admiral first before Thorson and then Brooklyn. He watched her closely, but detected nothing amiss. The Union Fleet Admiral took a long breath and contemplated the aroma. "I would be upset if I were Admiral Spruance as well. This is how your recent conquests serve you, Commander? Jealousy likely doesn't begin to cover it. I confess I've never had tea in the traditional Sakura fashion before. Thank you."
"I am pleased that it's to your liking," Choukai replied quietly, growing redder by the minute. Thorson didn't know what to say. There was no getting around the situation. He tried anyway.
"Let me guess. Akashi put you up to it?"
"Hai, Shikikan, but it is something that should be done. Your guest is a very important man and I am…"
The men and Brooklyn watched quietly as Choukai struggled with a great many emotions just below the surface. She finally composed herself and stood to leave. "Some of my shame may perhaps be replaced by service."
"Join us?" Brooklyn suggested. "I don't mean to overstep, Commander, but she may be able to tell us more about our enemies."
"She fought against you just the other day, did she not?" Nimitz wondered.
"She did, sir, but it's in her own self-interests to betray her former commanders, if not her nation. The rest remain more typical prisoners," Thorson explained. "Her sisters are trapped, for lack of a better word. She has joined us in exchange for my promise to free them. Choukai, this man is Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, the highest ranking Union officer in the Pacific."
The young woman, upon hearing who she'd just served tea to, bowed her head to the floor out of respect, feeling herself on the verge of tears. "Please rescue Atago and Takao. And please spare us."
Nimitz and Thorson glanced at one another, the former taking a sip of his beverage. "What does she mean, Commander?"
"I believe she's asking us to forgive the Sakura Empire when we are victorious in this war," Thorson explained grimly, looking at Choukai with a critical eye.
"I honed my skill with the blade from the moment I could carry one, yet your battleships refused to fall and destroyed my ship like it was nothing. Nagato-sama and Mikasa-sama are missing. Shoukaku and Zuikaku follow only their own orders. Kaga-sama should have killed you when she had the chance. I shamed myself already by refusing to die and refusing to remain captive. There is no further shame in asking for mercy."
"Akashi!" Thorson shouted, unsurprised when the pint-sized merchant in the oversized coat opened the door almost immediately.
"Nyaa, Shikikan?" she asked with a smile that could only be described as cat-like.
"Bring Choukai a cup, please. The Admiral has business with her. Fetch Naka as well."
"Hai, Shikikan!" she agreed before scurrying off to the docks. It was true that Thorson could have selected any number of Sakura ships for the purpose, but the idea of Yuudachi and Shigure being subject to questioning by a Union Fleet Admiral did not seem a good idea. A short time later, the two rather elegant Sakura cruisers were seated on one side of the table, with Nimitz scrutinizing Naka's animalistic features in particular as he stroked his chin silently.
"Um, is there something I can help you with, Shikikan?" the red-haired fox wondered nervously as she accepted tea from Choukai, watching her words carefully around an Admiral. "It just seems a bit strange to be invited to have tea with this sort of… company."
"If only it were that simple, Naka. Just taking some time to enjoy tea sounds rather appealing after all that's happened of late," Thorson agreed with a wan smile. "Today, however, I'd like you to actively participate in the fall of the rest of the Sakura Navy, and the conclusion of this war."
"That's one way of putting it, if not a tad dramatic" Brooklyn added, her tone one of disapproval. Given that they were sat next to one another it was easy for Thorson to rest a hand on her thigh and get her attention.
"I know, but honesty has only ever benefited me with kansen, regardless of nationality. Naka and Choukai deserve to know what they are doing, and to know that the more information we possess the more likely we can strike a decisive blow without mass carnage. I will say again what I have said since Pearl Harbor. The sirens are the true enemies here, not the two of us. I don't think peace is possible without defeating Akagi and Kaga, but there is no reason Azur Lane cannot exist once more. I think even you feel the same, Naka."
"I do, Shikikan," she admitted, looking down at the cloudy, green surface of her matcha. "But I'm not sure I can do what you ask of me."
"We just need information, Naka. I won't ask you to cross swords with your sisters. I daresay between the Union forces and kansen like Yuudachi we'll have plenty of volunteers. But your sister was one of Kaga's most valued pupils, wasn't she? And Choukai, you said your sisters were hand-picked for… experimentation?"
"What experimentation, Commander?" Nimitz spoke up suddenly and seriously. "You made no mention of this in your report."
"That's because I can only speak to what I have seen in battle myself and what I have been able to achieve using the conductive matrix on this base, sir. I only know of this via Choukai. But if I can bring a kansen back from the dead, I shudder to think what the Sakura might be capable of with the Sirens' aid."
"Those files used to be easy to ignore," the Admiral lamented, more to himself than anyone around the low, wooden table. "Anomalies and riddles that gave us gifts we didn't know how to use. Aliens in the form of harlot schoolgirls? Fantasy talk, the lot of it. How could anyone take such things seriously?"
"The flaming defensive shields might be a place to start," Brooklyn tittered before contributing her postulations. "But perhaps that was their intention all along? Their power is undeniable, but their form seems chosen expressly to sow doubt among those who encounter them. I have only read those so called old files myself. Have the two of you ever seen one?"
"Yes," Choukai replied seriously. "Her name is Tester, and she constantly buzzes about the Sanctuary, primarily interacting with Akagi and Kaga. I have never spoken to her but she is as you generally described, a young woman with an evil gaze, long silver hair, and far too little clothing."
"Other than the evil bit you just described Yuudachi, though I can't say I enjoy the implication of the designation 'tester'," Thorson opined. Choukai looked at him in surprise as though swatted on the hand, but eventually smiled.
"Yes, I suppose I did just describe the little hound. It is best that Yuudachi does not have those hideous yellow eyes. The siren possesses rigging as well, vaguely reminiscent of a manta ray."
"Mmm, that's right," Naka confirmed, happy to rat out a siren if not her sisters. "She's even got that whip-like stinger tail."
"Wait, you said a manta ray? Her rigging isn't based on some sort of ship? Does she have a ship?" Thorson demanded, having never heard of such a thing. Neither Sakura kansen was able to answer the question. "Obviously almost all Sakura possess some animal-like features, but I've never seen animalistic rigging."
"Maybe it is a ship, just one we've never seen," Brooklyn proposed. "Up until now we have only encountered siren aircraft. I believe I kept a copy of that report here on base as well, I just don't have it with me, Admiral Nimitz."
"I believe it can wait. But I will review it, thank you," he replied. "Our efforts must focus on bringing the Sakura navy to heel first, even if they are not the final enemy. You have already proven that some among them are amenable to fighting with us under certain conditions, Commander. When that is done we can worry about the Sirens."
"It may not be so simple, sir," Thorson said, frowning as he took a sip from his cup. "We have an Ironblood defector here on base, one of the original four destroyers. She eluded submarine patrols and all manner of danger to find us here and the news from Europe is not good. From the sound of things, the Sirens have completely taken over the Ironblood navy, if not the country itself. At least among the Sakura there are many who doubted Akagi and Kaga, and the two of them seem to maintain some amount of independence from whatever passes for Siren high command."
"Then we crush what remains of the resistance in the Pacific and transition to the Atlantic. By which I mean you, of course," Nimitz clarified with a bit of a smirk. "Midway, if anything, has proven we need to rethink our doctrine around the use of shipgirls in combat. Until that is done, you are indispensable. Don't die. Before I depart I would appreciate your formal recommendations, Commander."
Thorson blinked twice before responding, a shocked look on his face. "We can have those recommendations prepared for you, sir."
"Good. In the meantime the war must go on, so to speak. In time, I hope our other task forces will reflect some of the power of your own merry little band, but that is time we do not have. The enemy has been routed and we should strike while the iron is hot. What do you need to defeat them, Commander?" Nimitz demanded. Thorson placed his tea on the table and took his chin in his hand.
"Choukai, Naka, do you think it's possible that the second carrier division would join us in an offensive against the Sanctuary? What about the fifth?" he demanded. The two Sakura cruisers looked at one another in disbelief.
"I couldn't say, Shikikan," Naka replied. "Hiryuu would absolutely join with you if her sister did the same, but I don't know the first thing about Soryuu's thoughts on the war. Asking the crane sisters would be far easier, I believe. They have always found themselves in conflict with the kitsune, but even then I'm not sure they would fight under your banner. They are equally prideful and distrustful."
"Shoukaku and Zuikaku have not been heard from since Coral Sea," Choukai pointed out. "Not even Akagi and Kaga know of their current whereabouts. Some presume them dead along with Shouhou."
"Those two… one of them plays the flute? They can command fog and mist in battle?" Thorson described, receiving immediate nods.
"Yes, Shikikan, that is them. You fought with them?" Naka wondered.
"I did, and they retreated from the battlefield at Coral Sea before taking any serious amount of damage. Unless something happened to them of which neither of us is aware, those two are very much alive."
Naka did not have a strong outward reaction to that news one way or another, but Choukai, who had been with the Sakura fleet until far more recently, looked livid. "Those two… idiots! Unforgivable! I'm sorry, forgive my outburst, Shikikan."
"You call that an outburst?" Nimitz asked kindly. "Think nothing of it, but do finish your thought. What happened with this carrier group?"
Choukai looked down at her lap, her ample bosom heaving with her sad sigh. "I joined with you because I have lost hope, and am doing the only thing I can think of to see my sisters freed. Days ago I hoped for glorious victory instead. Shoukaku and Zuikaku no doubt think themselves cunning and wise, but the blood of our fallen sisters is on their hands. I refuse to believe they did not know about the assault operation. They chose to remain hidden. Now many are dead, and our fleet is broken."
Thorson glanced at Brooklyn, rendering his honest opinion. "I don't know if we could have beaten six carriers, especially not if the additional two were the ones we fought at Coral Sea. Admiral, I think we should focus on getting all the information we can on the Sanctuary right now. We will then begin work on recommendations for a re-armament of the Union kansen. I do not wish to take away from the bravery of anyone on our side, but it sounds like our victory hung on the whims of two Sakura warriors."
"Very well," Nimitz agreed sternly, not wanting to fully contemplate what would have happened if the Sakura had possessed a fifty percent increase in airpower at Midway. "And when that is concluded, we will discuss Enterprise's transfer to your fleet. There is no time to rebuild her task force."
By sundown, the various business needing attention around the base had been concluded by both kansen and men. Enterprise, the other Union kansen, and the shrine maidens had laid Yorktown and Hornet to rest, while Nimitz concluded his meeting with Thorson, Brooklyn, and the various defectors from the Sakura. The Fleet Admiral had called for a subsequent meeting with Enterprise, Spruance, and the other commanders of the Union fleet. Brooklyn remained to take notes and record minutes as the group of well dressed, well decorated men made their plans for the second phase of the Pacific war.
"It is my conviction, one shared by Commander Thorson, that now is the time to strike against the Sakura and Siren base of operations in this theater. There are many who have sworn service to the Commander who know of its location, its strengths, and its weaknesses. They all seem to have done so for their own reasons, but our own Union shipgirls seem to keep them in line. This mixed fleet is the reason we prevailed at Midway, so we will keep questions on its prudence and effectiveness within the realm of the academic for now. Is that clear?"
"Yes sir," the various sailors replied. Nimitz nodded approvingly.
"Very good. Then here is what I propose. Commander Thorson, your fleet mainly lacks airpower, correct?"
Thorson saluted before answering. "I will take any ship I can get, sir, but yes. That is correct. We are quite strong in terms of our bombardment capability thanks to Union command. Our escort fleet is rather unorthodox, but the Sakura destroyers who have joined us there are the most loyal by my estimation. Many of them have formed deep bonds with various Union battleships."
"Indeed? Perhaps one day we will all be able to review in detail your work at this facility, Commander. I have no doubt that the late Admiral Hawkins would be most impressed. Tonight, however, we address the carrier situation. Though it would be a boon, I am in agreement that we cannot rely on the second carrier division of the Sakura navy to defect and fight against their former comrades, even if there is precedence for that sort of action and we are in possession of the materials to construct new ships for them. Nor can we rely on this mysterious fifth carrier division. That leaves three carriers that we could possibly assign to you, Commander," Nimitz reasoned, pausing as he looked straight at Enterprise.
"Lexington has a strong relationship with her commanding officer, while Saratoga is eager but outdated. You are the pride of the Union Navy, Enterprise. Under normal circumstances I have no doubt that you and your sisters, along with Admiral Spruance and the others, would be responsible for our eventual victory in this conflict. But our pilot corps are decimated, as are our stores of aircraft. There is no alternative. If we are to strike back at them you must become like the enemy, like Ark Royal, and like Lexington. Commander Thorson, as of today Enterprise is officially transferred to your command, along with her remaining crew. You have one week, enough time for us to get a supply convoy out here. By the end of that time I want Enterprise fit for combat on the same level as the ships that assaulted us at Midway."
"If I may, sir?" Thorson stepped forward, looking with stern sympathy at Enterprise. The tall, silver-haired carrier remained stoic and accepting of her fate.
"Go ahead, Commander."
"Every kansen under my command has demonstrated an aversion to human crews. Near as I can tell they interfere with the operation of the vessel if the kansen is in full control, even without rigging. Rigging only enhances the incompatibility. There is a good chance that by the end of the week the vast majority of Enterprise's crew will need to be reassigned. Her pilots might be willing to stay with us as advisors or strategists. They'll never fly in combat again, however. That will be Enterprise's job. Surely Lexington is already learning about her abilities in this area as well. I'm not sure I'm qualified to make this decision, sir. I don't know if the veterans of this battle are better served training a new generation of pilots for non-kansen conflicts or if they should remain with her to devise new aviation tactics for use against enemy kansen. The capabilities of the enemy carriers are immense, but even they need to exert energy to create and pilot their aircraft. Tactics still rule the day in an even fight."
Nimitz and the other Union officers looked silently at one another, considering logistics from a previously unthinkable perspective. It was Spruance who spoke up first. "I don't want to see any more of my boys' lives thrown away for nothing. But if you need their help, Enterprise, I know they will remain with you."
Suddenly the center of attention, the kansen found herself flushing slightly, grabbing at her upper arm with her opposite hand. "I will do what I must and protect those who stay, if I can. I will be in your care, Commander."
Spruance, among others, shot rather pointed glances Thorson's way. It was no secret that the majority of the Union battleships didn't get along well with Union high command, but that relationship seemed to be utterly reversed among the carriers. At least Lexington and her own commanding officer seemed close, and if the look on Spruance's face was any indication, he'd just been told by Nimitz to marry his daughter off to the philandering young buck with a harem of oriental comfort girls. "Let's just start with step one. Depending on who you ask, I'm not exactly a good caretaker of kansen."
"Oh posh, it's not like you've stopped any of us from falling for other men," Brooklyn tittered, giving her Commander his own cause to blush slightly.
"Not what I meant," he muttered. "I'll see to her rigging after the evening meal, sir. It should be about time now. You're all welcome to join us, obviously. Just take care around the prisoner's table. Actually… take care around all the tables now that I think about it. Things can get a bit rowdy."
While Thorson's premonition absolutely came true, it was just as much a result of the visiting crew of Enterprise's task force as Thorson's own fleet. There was a great victory to celebrate, after all, and the food was excellent by navy standards. That it was being served by various adorable cat and dog girls from the Sakura didn't hurt either. Fredrick was the odd man out, but Thorson's fleet had made great sport out of it. With so many sailors about, it was inevitable that one or two allowed their feelings at being served by him to slip out. Hatsuharu had attempted to come to his defense, only to be pushed away by a sailor with more brawn than sense. Yuugure, unwilling to allow her sister accosted in such a manner, promptly deployed her rigging and shot the man in the back of the head, concussing him directly into his dinner. She insisted he would not be getting a second plate. A few had stood at the assault, but that just gave Downes reason to jump on the table. Yuudachi and Shigure, noticing this, followed suit as dogs are wont to do, tails wagging rapidly.
"Come on, pussy boys! Let's have at it then if you hate our Texan chef so much!" Downes declared gleefully, tackling one into what became a dogpile of sailors and literal dogs before long. Arizona had remained seated in the name of decorum, but Pennsylvania decided to physically chuck Shigure and then Yuudachi onto the pile, exacting some form of what she hoped was approved revenge against Union rank and file. Tennessee and California stood from their seats to play referee, with the former laughing openly and loudly every time a Union sailor was inevitably embarrassed by one of Thorson's pint-sized typhoons. Fredrick, ever reserved, did his best to continue serving meals along with Shiratsuyu and the rest. He did have something of a smile on his face for the rest of the night as the scrum evolved into straight up pugilism, with bets being taken and all manner of spectator watching gleefully. When Nimitz and Spruance looked to Thorson for an explanation all he could say was 'next time don't refer to Mr. Miles that way'. That point was further accentuated when everyone was finally served dinner, consisting of shepherd's pie for the Union and grilled fish, rice, and vegetables for the Sakura who preferred cuisine from their home country. Fredrick sat himself down next to Houston who, likely on account of previous events and her elation at being able to spend an evening with her sister, introduced Northampton to her boyfriend by kissing him flush on the lips.
"Ah, get it Houston!" Maryland shouted, pounding on the table and almost sending glassware to the floor. Colorado refused to join in, looking at everyone haughtily from behind her collar, but Laffey and the gang were having a right good time.
"Maybe sailors should stop by more often. Laffey enjoys watching them fight with Downes and the others, yes yes."
"You yanks are utter barbarians. What sport!" Javelin added, wrapping an arm around Zed who seemed almost nervous at the idea of engaging in such frivolity with her Kommandant watching.
"Her sister seems very relieved," Zed replied instead, watching the unimpeachable smile that graced Northampton's face. The two cruisers were dressed rather conspicuously, but in the chaos of dinner no one seemed to mind. If anything, the survivors of Midway found such feminine forms to be most welcome, though none were particularly successful in their efforts at ingratiating themselves with Thorson's fleet. Several rejections were downright riots to behold, with Enterprise looking on with something between horror and shame from where she sat with the Union officers and her new Commander.
"You're not concerned, Commander?" Nimitz wondered as Shiratsuyu cleared his plate and served him a cup of coffee. "Oh, thank you my dear." The Sakura destroyer curtseyed and made her way back to the kitchens as Thorson shook his head.
"My girls can more than take care of themselves, Admiral. If anything I'd be worried about your sailors. Yamashiro and Fusou are polite as anything but-" Thorson was drowned out by roars of laughter as a particular sailor found himself doubled over in pain, struck from behind by Tennessee for the sin of propositioning her sister for a night together.
"At least buy her dinner first," the battleship spat as California, ever the softie, helped the young man back to his feet. Thorson waved his hand her way with a shrug and a smile.
"What else can I say?"
"No no, that was an ample demonstration," Nimitz chuckled. "I can't say I blame the lads, though I can hardly blame your kansen either. This may be uncouth, but how exactly did the Negro score himself a pretty young lady like that?"
"He treated her in the manner of a gentleman, sir. You would have to ask her to share more if you're so inclined," Thorson responded, a warm look on his face as he greeted Hatsuharu. She'd brought coffee for him and Enterprise.
"Oh, thanks for that," the carrier replied, watching the shy little destroyer as she returned from whence she came.
"We fished her out of the Pacific after a skirmish, along with her sister," Thorson told her, tracking her gaze easily enough and sensing her curiosity. "I don't know how things would have gone otherwise, but with Akashi and Shiranui already at the facility, they were more amenable to helping out."
"And the others? Are they all former prisoners?" Enterprise asked, her tone indicating she wasn't sure she wanted to know the answer.
"Many are," Thorson replied, pointing to each in turn. "Naka, Choukai, Shiratsuyu, Yuugure, Ooshio and her sisters. The rest are a bit different. Yuudachi and Yukikaze defected during the battle at Java Sea on account of Shiratsuyu. She may not look it but she's Yuudachi's oldest sister, and Yukikaze is a fast friend of theirs. Shigure arrived here on account of Yamashiro, tracked her down I guess. Kasumi is the same. She found her way here on account of a couple spirit buddies of hers, wanted to be with her sisters, the four smaller maidens there. Let's see now. Those three small ones with Ark Royal were captured after the same battle that got us Yuugure and the rest. Yukikaze's four sisters, the slightly older looking ones over there, were captured alive after Midway. And then there's Yamashiro and Fusou," Thorson concluded. It was difficult to miss the mixture of emotions in his voice.
"They're special to you?" Enterprise asked.
"In more ways than one," Thorson affirmed. "They gave me the information I needed to return Arizona from the dead, fled here after Akagi and Kaga attempted to enslave them with Siren biotechnology. Near as I can tell, the two of them now represent the old religion of the Sakura, which is incompatible with whatever claims the first carrier division are making about this all powerful 'Creator' they follow. We still have that creepy Siren shit under lock and key around here. Pennsylvania took Fusou prisoner and they're been comrades ever since, while I had to throw Yamashiro off her own ship. My fleet was not happy with me after that. But they've given us so much, including a place to lay the dead to rest properly."
Inevitably, Enterprise focused on one element of the tale. "Arizona. How did you-"
"She was a special case, Enterprise," Thorson stated firmly but sympathetically. "Something about the circumstances of her death was unique, unlike that of any other kansen I've had the misfortune of witnessing. Tell me, your sister's cubes, what color were they when you laid them to rest?"
"Yorktown's was light blue just like the rest of them, but I know it's hers. I always will. Hornet's was the same until I said goodbye. Everyone else had gone, but I just couldn't bring myself to leave her. She's my little sister. When I turned back from the doorway it was bright yellow. It's like she was saying goodbye in her own way. C-Commander?!"
The entire mess hall fell eerily silent as Thorson stood so rapidly his coffee spilled over the table. The young man began yelling orders as their many guests watched in confusion. "Akashi, boot up the conductive matrix immediately. Girls, whoever's in the dry-docks get their ship out of there now! Fusou, I need multiple unused cubes ready to go as soon as I get back from the shrine. Move! And Enterprise!"
"Y-yes?!" she yelped, not anticipating being addressed in such a manner, especially not with Thorson looking at her like death itself was stalking him.
"I need you to find someplace quiet to meditate. Think about Hornet. Conjure as many memories as you can, the good and bad. Talk to her C/O if you think it wise. If what you just told me is true… you might be able to pull her back before she goes to rest for good. Pennsylvania!"
"Sir!" the battleship saluted, looking at Enterprise with some amount of suspicion. The carrier, more than any other kansen, was a symbol of the old order that had consigned battleships like her and her sister to obscurity. But Thorson's orders were absolute.
"Tell her everything you remember about the night we brought your sister back." He did not even wait for her reply, sprinting out into the night and leaving the canteen in a state of utter chaos. Akashi followed him shortly; herding the bulins with her while Shiranui began collecting the younger ships for escort to the dormitories. The neko was shouting gleefully.
"Move your little legs like your lives depend on it! The jeeps are nearby! Tonight we smack Akagi in her stupid butt, nyaa!"